Good morning saints….
Generosity Produces Gratitude ~
As we are about to enter a new month; it is nearly time to begin preparing for the change in seasons. I am excited for and eagerly anticipating the cooler weather, and of course, who can forget the holidays vastly approaching …..
We can receive some valuable insight for our lives even today as we contemplate the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Did you know that he paints such a clear picture of Ebenezer Scrooge, that the word “scrooge” actually appears in the dictionary? I kid you not, as it is defined as “a miserly person”…. Pretty amazing ….
For those who may not have ever seen the movie; the story is set on Christmas Eve, when Scrooge is an old man. But Dickens gives readers a glimpse into Scrooge’s entire life, revealing that he was not always selfish. Though he had a knack for numbers and a frugal nature, he wasn’t born miserly …
Leaves one to wonder what happened to the old guy, huh? Well, in essence, Scrooge never processed the painful experiences of his youth, and heartache hardened him. This, combined with the character flaw of greed, transformed his positive attribute of frugality into stinginess. Not only was he stingy, he was mean. The two usually go hand in hand, and even more so with age at times.
One reason Dickens is considered a master storyteller is that his characters are so real ….
We can all relate to Scrooge, because chances are, we know a couple of them ourselves. They might be relatives, neighbors, or friends. In fact, if we’re honest, some of us are on our way to becoming Scrooge ourselves! Without question, misers don’t grow old very well, because generosity is a key component to graceful aging ….
Take the example of Anna (Luke 2:36-38). As an elderly widow, Anna likely didn’t possess great wealth. Nevertheless, when it came to blessings and favor, she was extremely rich! Anna was a teacher in the Old Testament, one of only a few women mentioned in the Bible with this gift. She came from the tribe of Asher, not the priestly tribe of Levi. However, despite her gender and tribal heritage, she was well respected, even given a place to live on the temple grounds. Why so highly esteemed? Anna had a sacrificial spirit, giving her whole life to serving God. That is generosity in action ….
Rest assured, her life wasn’t trouble free. She spent the majority of her days a widow; her husband died after only seven years of marriage. I have experienced that. While such painful circumstances might have hardened her heart, Anna let benevolence prevail. While she could have become a bitter old widow, she chose to live selflessly. And this selflessness led to exaltation, to the extent that her story is part of Scripture, written for all eternity. How glorious to be remembered for something as that. Anna personifies graceful aging. Her life bears witness to (Proverbs 11:25): “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”
Basically, the generous soul will be made rich ….
If generosity leads to blessing, then why are so many people selfish? And why does this trait become more common with age? There are several possible factors:
The fear some have of others taking advantage of them. In many respects, generosity is a state of vulnerability and carries with it the risk of “being burned.” Once burned, some will shield themselves at any cost: even at the cost of becoming a miser. In addition, past negative experiences will affect present behavior. When people lose money for whatever reason, a tight fist is a common reaction. In the economic crisis of 2008, people lost huge sums of money; it cost some their life’s savings. Not at all surprisingly, the level of charitable giving dropped tremendously during that period …..
There is the issue of trust. Some people are misers because they have no faith. They won’t give, because they don’t believe God’s promises, or they don’t think He is able to replenish their bank account; and certainly not increase it, if they give money away. Yet still others simply allow greed and a tendency to hoard govern their lives ….
While there are many reasons for selfishness, none are justifiable. True love is manifested in generosity. One of the most widely known verses in the Bible gives proof of this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16).
Loving and giving are tightly linked. Love is the condition; generosity is the action. It is also a matter of obedience. However, there is always a choice. And just as it is written “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galations 6:7), it aptly describes the generous spirit. If you bless others, blessing will come back to you, and often in double portions ….
As these seasons begin to change, let’s look to making whatever adjustments are necessary to do the will of the Lord, and may we remember the words of Paul when he wrote: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Don’t overlook the glaring truth of these verses that gratitude is not conditional. Gratitude often comes when we are generous because it allows us, in some situations, to humble ourselves; saying, “there but for the grace of God go I” and in others instances to express love through actions rather than merely words. When we are generous with our time, our money, or our attention to others; God may be glorified and we may be blessed in ways we haven’t imagined …
At all times, in all seasons, and in all circumstances, we have a reason to be grateful. Life’s circumstances are always temporary, but God’s grace toward us is eternal. If we focus on the big picture of grace, then gratitude naturally follows. Gratitude is not an emotion, but in all truthfulness a condition of the heart. Examine the condition of your heart. Purge your heart of selfishness, and let generosity prevail …..
Let us pray ~
Father, I want to lift up my hands and my voice to worship You in thanksgiving and praise today for all the goodness and loving-kindness that You so freely pour out on me with every passing day.
Thank You for the grace that You supply often moment by moment, and day by day, and I pray that You would develop in me a true attitude of gratefulness and a heart that acknowledges the long-suffering way that You are working in so many areas of my life.
Lord I am so very grateful to You and pray that You would keep my heart filled with appreciation for all You have done for me, and develop in me a godly attitude of gratefulness, that I may never cease to praise You for Your gracious goodness to me and to all of your children.
May I learn to recognize that all of the gifts and the graces and favor that I have received and may continue to receive is a result only of Your loving-kindness towards me. I can do nothing to earn Your favor. May I never cease to lift up my hands and voice to You in grateful praise and honor to You for all You are doing in my life. May the Lord Jesus be glorified in all that I would do, say or post today, and everyday I pray, Amen ….
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”